Wednesday, December 19, 2012

MLS and USL Pro Affiliation?

Rumors have been floating around for a couple months about some sort of agreement being worked on between MLS and USL Pro but with the USL Annual General Meeting wrapping up, there seems to be some vague details starting to surface. Affiliation

What do we know?  Well nothing for certain but Jason Davis at North American Soccer Network is reports this
 "USL informed its member clubs of a proposed agreement with MLS that would provide for an integrated third Division/MLS reserve league.  We could see some interplay between USL Pro and MLS reserves teams in 2013 and full integration in 2014.

The details as understood are:

If an MLS city has a USL Pro team nearby, MLS will provide 5 players and pay their salary

If there is no USL Pro team, the MLS reserve team will be come a new, permanent team in USL Pro

All USL Pro teams will have an MLS affiliate. "

Reading the details leave a lot of questions unanswered.  What is "nearby"? 50 miles?  100 miles?  What does the"affiliation" entail?  Does it mean we get a couple players every now and then?  Who would be the Battery affiliated club?  Is it similar to the ECHL South Carolina Stingray's affiliation with the NHL Boston Bruins?

Loans can be double edge swords as we saw last year.  Dykstra was typically on a game to game loan with the Battery.  He wasn't allowed to play in US Open Cup matches as DC United didn't want him cup tied.  Our Jamaican's Boyd and Kelly had to return to their parent club in Jamaica just as the play off started. But if we can get a couple players it would definitely add to the depth of the squad.

Having MLS reserve or "B" teams playing in USL Pro isn't as strange as it sounds on the surface.  Spanish and German teams have a "second" team playing in the lower divisions.  Obviously if all MLS teams enter a USL Pro team it would increase the league by 19 teams and allow regional divisions as USL envisions.  

The affiliation detail is the one that peaks the most interest.  Does this mean a friendly?  Exchange of coaching ideas?  Branding?  Short term loans?  Opportunities for USL players to train with MLS teams after (or even before) the USL season? 

As you can see it will be interesting to see what info we can find out and even if this will become a reality.

One thing is for sure, the Battery has a proud past.  They have also been very prudent on the business side of   game.  I imagine that they will only contnue this trend and we will still have the same proud and competative Charleston Battery we have come to love over the years.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

I agree. Getting MLS reserve teams into USL Pro is not only good for USL Pro, but for MLS player development. I think the 2012 Reserve schedule was like 10 games, at least in the West.

As for the "nearby" clause, one of the things it demonstrates is the weird geographical distribution of leagues. No MLS in the Southeast, but lots of NASL/USL Pro teams.